By Debbie Emery - Radar Reporter
A convicted killer who gloated about his cushy life behind bars has caused outrage among tax payers who cash out for his life of leisure "watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three, well-balanced, hot meals a day."
Danny Robbie Hembree Jr.'s arrogant letter to the Gaston Gazette in North Carolina has now led to a groundbreaking episode on ABC's Nightline investigating the pampered life of prisoners, reported ABC.com.
“Is the public aware that the chances of my lawful murder taking place in the next 20 years if ever are very slim?” asked the 50-year-old death row inmate, who was accused of killing two women, Randi Dean Saldana and Deborah Ratchford, and sentenced to death last November.
The taunting tone of the letter concluded with the murderer mocking the justice system. “I am a man who is ready to accept his unjust punishment and face God almighty with a clear conscience unlike you cowards and your cowardly system. Kill me if you can, suckers. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Hembree Jr.'s lackadaisical attitude backs up 25 years of research by New York Law School professor and pro-death-penalty advocate Robert Blecker that life inside state penitentiaries and maximum-security prisons can actually be an undeservedly pleasant experience for convicted killers.
"They're playing on softball fields with lined base paths and umpires in uniforms, while other guys are hanging out, getting a suntan," said Blecker, who is producing a documentary and book on the topic. "Those who committed the worst crimes, who deserve to suffer the most, generally suffer the least."
He revealed that some prisons can be so cushy that some convicts claim to have killed just to get locked up.
"I can play pool or basketball, "bragged Robert Pitts of Woodbury, Tennessee, who beat a 63-year-old grandmother to death with a pipe. "Softball when it's softball season. Run, you can go out and jog, lift weights, play cards."
Blecker said attitudes about crime and punishment might change if the public were aware of some of the cushy conditions inside, and while not advocating prisoners being deprived of their rights, he believes the punishment should fit the crime.
"For the worst of the worst of the worst, the ones who are raping and murdering children, there should be punishment," he said. "That quality of life that they experience day to day should be a direct reflection on the heinousness and seriousness of the crime."
The full episode of Nightline airs on ABC on Wednesday at 11:35 p.m.
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